I am starting to make plans to re-design my garden. It strikes me that winter is a good time to do this; not only does it give me something productive to do when it’s too cold or wet to get outside, but more importantly it acts as a very good reminder to this herbaceous perennial-obsessed gardener that planning winter colour and interest into the garden is very important too.
Winter colour can be achieved with a surprising number of plants, not just the classic holly and ivy. Here are some on the list for my garden:
Viburnum Tinus (Laurustinus viburnum)
This is an evergreen which has beautiful big clusters of tiny white or pale pink flowers that open in January. It will grow in most soils and tolerate any orientation and is easy to grow as long as the soil isn’t too wet. It doesn’t need much pruning, but it will tolerate a tidy-up in spring after it’s flowered.
White varieties include ‘French White’, ‘Gwenllian’ and ‘Eve Price’, and pink varieties include ‘Pink Prelude’. I am thinking of ‘French White’ for my garden, as Viburnum tinus will tolerate shade, and pure white stand out well in shady areas.
It might come as a surprise that I’m considering Eucalyptus for my small suburban garden since it has such a reputation for rapidly getting tall and out of control. But if coppiced every year, this vigorous plant can be kept in check and grown as a shrub, and it provides beautiful silvery evergreen foliage all year round and is great for cutting and bringing indoors, as featured in one of my recent Monday vases. I think this will be a lovely foil to the purple and blue perennials I’m planning for the summer months.
Sarcococca confusa (Sweet box)
This is another evergreen shrub, which is great for winter green, but its main attraction is the scent of the white flowers that appear in January or February. To me they smell like honeysuckle, and they are a fantastic source of nectar for overwintering insects. It will grow in shade which is useful, and can be trained up a fence, though it will only get to about 1.2 metres high.
Clematis urophylla ‘Winter Beauty’
This evergreen clematis flowers from December to March. It is not the most hardy winter clematis, it needs good drainage and some protection below -7 degrees C. I have this in mind for a wall near to the house where it will be protected and get warmth radiating from the bricks.I will grow it up a trellis interwoven with summer-flowering deciduous climbers.
Clematis cirrhosa ‘Jingle Bells’
Again this is an evergreen clematis, which has white flowers from December to February.
So, that’s my list of winter interest plants so far. I’m still open to suggestions; what do you have in your garden that you’d recommend for providing greenery or flowers at this time of year?